Beauty, Celebrity, and Sainthood


Convivium, 7 September 2017

Convivium editor-in-chief Father Raymond J. de Souza reflects on the twentieth anniversary of the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Mother Teresa, as well as their legacy of beauty. 

The royal women have been much in the news. Diana, Princess of Wales, died twenty years ago last week. Her posthumous daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, announced on Monday that she is expecting her third child. And later this autumn the Queen will mark yet another one of the astonishing milestones – her 70th wedding anniversary – that she now collects as she moves toward, less than a decade from now, her 100th birthday.

On Saturday, I watched the BBC retrospective on Diana’s death; entitled 7 Days, it chronicles the week of her death in Paris and her funeral at Westminster Abbey. It’s strange to watch it now. At the time, the tragic death of the young princess was immediately overwhelmed by the drama of the people – mourning the “people’s princess” in the words of Tony Blair – versus the Queen, remote and unfeeling. While the grief-stricken throngs filled the streets of London, the Queen was castigated for remaining in seclusion with her grandsons, Prince William and Prince Harry, at Balmoral.

What was an apparent crisis then, appears to be silly at a distance of twenty years. The BBC documentary, made with the support and participation of Diana’s sons, now takes the Queen’s side. Diana’s sister says that Her Majesty was right to comfort her own grandsons with some privacy, rather than subject them to the “wailing” masses in London. That’s the word, by the way, that Prince William uses to express, even after two decades, his continuing astonishment at the melodramatic behavior of the crowds who had no personal knowledge of his mother, save for what the oh-so-reviled paparazzi gave to them.

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